CAMBRIDGE, England Cambridge Consultants has demonstrated a wireless tagging technology based on new-generation ultra-wide band (UWB) communications, which could provide an advance for paperless transport ticketing.
The technology provides a large sensing zone, with the option of 3D-positional information on tags, and could be used to eliminate barriers in railway systems and allow revenue-checking staff to target only ticket-less passengers.
Current proximity smartcard tickets need to touch or pass within a few centimetres of a reader but Cambridge Consultants' says its UWB technology has a range of 25 metres and can be sensed within a pocket or bag.
The technology also supports two-way communications and embedded intelligence which provides the basis to design tags capable of implementing functions such as links to location-based services such as taxis, and sophisticated ticketing mechanisms such as support for multi-modal/multi-operator travel, and variable charging from an e-purse.
A UWB tag can currently be implemented on a small module similar in size to a credit card, and could be integrated to a single low-cost chip and simple antenna. Power consumption should mean that for advanced schemes involving two-way communications a small button cell would be required.
Cambridge Consultants anticipates that the price of UWB-based paperless tickets could be as low as 2 euros for national-scale schemes.
The reader for such a UWB tagging system comes is a basestation, similar to that for a cordless phone, which could be portable.
The precision location sensing capability of the system comes from the use of two basestations fitted with very low power UWB radar capability – a technology that Cambridge Consultants has pioneered for people sensing at road crossings, and anti-collision radar for automobiles.
Two basestations can sense the location of tags – or even people without tags – in a 3D zone covering an area of 25 x 25 metres. The components required for these short-range transceivers/location sensors could cost between 200 and 400 euros depending on the features implemented.